Sweden’s Ten Largest Taxpayers 2012

H & M’s Stefan Persson is usually the Swede that pays the most in taxes. But he did not qualify to the top 10 list of Sweden’s ten largest taxpayers 2012, the Jan Stenbeck heir slipped in at number ten this year.

In the 1990’s the H & M owner Stefan Persson threatened to migrate for tax reasons, but then Sweden lowered the tax on family businesses. In recent years billions in dividends from the clothing company has made Stefan Persson topped the list of the Swedes who pay the most in taxes.

However once shareholding in H & M was transferred to the family business, Ramsbury Invest, the taxes where reduced significantly to 51 SEK million compared to 826 SEK million in the previous year. Stefan Persson now occupies seat number 13 on the list of Swedes who pay the most in taxes, now overtaken even by his sister Liselott Tham.

On the list of the ten Swedes this year that pays the most in taxes there are several relatively unknown persons. Nine out of nine men on the list are over 50 years old. At the top is a relatively unknown Johan Stendahl who has made money through a series of real estate transactions and on the bottom you will find Jan Stenbeck’s now 15 year old son.

Jan Stenbeck died from complications of a heart attack in 2002 and it was only after his death that it was discovered that the financier and entrepreneur had an unknown son. A heritage dispute started after his death and it is the rights to this heritage that has taken the 15 year old son to the top layer of the list of Swedish taxpayers. He earned no more than 27,000 SEK in income last year, but the heritage has given him property incomes that year that exceeded 200 SEK million and landed an overall tax liability for 2012 of 66 SEK million.

The road to the heritage was long for everybody involved. Stenbeck family worked hard for a number of years to place the investigation of heritage in Luxembourg and not, as the 15 year old sons lawyer demanded, in Sweden. The family appealed the case all the way up to the Supreme Court but the decision was determined. Investigation of heritage was conducted in Sweden and submitted to the Tax Board in Stockholm on the last day of January 2006, more than three years after Jan Stenbeck’s death.

When the investigation of heritage became public it revealed that Jan Stenbeck in his wills gave all of his assets to a so-called trust in Liechtenstein. But according to Swedish law a will only control 50 percent of the assets and the rest must go to each child’s statutory share. This gave the 15 year old son rights to the heritage.

Another person that stands out on the list is Håkan Björklund, he is the former CEO of pharmaceutical company Nycomed. Sales of the company in 2011 raised the Swedish tax authorities over 100 SEK million in capital gains tax from Bjorklund. The transaction resulted in a hefty bargain for the owners and Bjorklund himself who owned 45,776 shares and 175,100 share options in the company. This paid off when Japanese Takeda bought Nycomed for more than 50 SEK billion.

It is not primarily tax on traditional work that makes Johan Stendahl, Liselott Tham and the others top Swedish taxpayers but rather income from savings and investments. It is primarily the sale of real estate, company shares and securities that boosts the incomes and tax payments. But this also means that the tax rate that they pay is lower than for ordinary wages earned. This because the Swedish tax on capital income is 30 percent in comparison to the municipal tax which is in the average of 31.6 percent. For those earning more than 401,100 SEK a year there is also a state income tax of 20 percent and for those earning more than 574,300 SEK the state tax rate is 25 percent.

Top 10 Taxpayers in Sweden 2012

This are the top 10 taxpayers in Sweden 2012 according to Skatteverket (Swedish tax authorities):

1. Johan Stendahl, property owners, 235 SEK million
2. Liselott Tham, H & M owner and daughter of Erling Persson, 164 SEK million
3. Håkan Björklund, former CEO of pharmaceutical company Nycomed, 138 SEK million
4. Måns Hultman, investors and IT consultant, 124 SEK million
5. Ulf Aipel, IT entrepreneur, 123 SEK million
6. Magnus Lundberg, a board member of several pharmaceutical companies, 112 SEK million
7. Fredrik Lundberg, financier, 108 SEK million
8. Patrick Brummer, financier, 103 SEK million
9. Roy Gustafsson, founder of Norwegian oil company, 82 SEK million
10. Jan Stenbeck heir, 66 SEK million

Source: Skatteverket

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